Rabat – A Spanish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Clara Aguilera has spent recent months lambasting Moroccan tomato exports, which she believes threaten “the stability of the EU tomato market.”
Aguilera underlined that Moroccan tomato exports have already exceeded the monthly tariff quota for February. The European Commission has set the annual preferential tariff quota for Morocco at 285,000 tons, but she believes that tomato exports from Morocco “in particular,” will exceed 500,000 tons this year if they maintain their upward trend, she underlined in a letter to the European Commission.
“The Spanish sector denounces a new market disturbance caused by the derived oversupply” from outside the EU, she stressed.
The MEP warns that “the imported volumes exceeding the monthly and total limits of the tariff quota will not benefit from any preferential treatment, but will be submitted to normal customs duty.”
Aguilera asked the European Commission to correct the EU entry price point for the Moroccan tomato imports.
“The entry price is the only safeguard that the European sector has against imports that distort trade. In theory, it prevents products from accessing the Community market with prices below a security threshold,” Aguilera stated in another letter.
The Spanish MEP stated that the EU agreement with Morocco “has been causing serious losses in the profitability of horticultural products from Granada, Almería and Murcia,” her home region.
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Aguilera’s attacks on Moroccan exports come in the wake of Morocco’s ever-growing competitiveness in the sector. Morocco’s tomato exports to the EU have increased by 28.84% in the last five years, while those of Spain have shrunk by 22.99% in the same period, according to data from Euroestacom.
Hortoinfo, a Spanish horticultural newspaper, recently reported that the United Kingdom now imports 37.5% less Spanish tomatoes, while increasing Moroccan tomato imports by 66.83%.
The Netherlands is the biggest exporter of tomatoes to both the EU and the UK, Spain is second, and in both markets, Morocco stands in a close third place.
Morocco’s competitiveness can not be denied, as a growing number of markets are becoming increasingly recipient to fresh produce from Morocco, known for both its more economical price, as well as exceptional flavor.
The chairman of a recently established UK political party, Time, Robert Kimbell, believes that Morocco could soon outperform Spain to become the UK’s biggest supplier of fresh produce.
“Morocco’s attractiveness as a UK source of high quality olive oil, superb fresh fruit, and of top-class vegetables is becoming unsurpassed,” he underlined.